Shakespeare must have been fond of falcons, as they show up more often than any other kind of bird in his plays, says Nigel Ramsay, exhibit co-curator. Falconry “was a rather grand form of hunting” and a falcon was a “rather grand creature to have on your crest,” Ramsay says.
Silver and gold are the noblest of hues. When Shakespeare requested them, “he was aiming high,” Ramsay says.
William Dethick, the official who granted Shakespeare’s coat of arms came under criticism for giving them to a mere actor. Shakespeare got to keep his arms, but Dethick was eventually forced to resign.
End of the Line
Shakespeare had no male heirs, so his coat of arms died with him. That means he spent about $750 for every year he got to use his coat of arms — not a bad deal, considering that it probably helped him shore up royal support for his plays, Ramsay says.
More exhibits to see in D.C.: